Loneliness and anxiety increases at exam time, survey finds

Loneliness and anxiety increases at exam time, survey finds

Derek Richardson

A recent study found that 64 percent of final year undergraduate students are worried that stress and anxiety are creating performance issues fueling fears that they will get lower grades than expected.

The study was conducted by Stop Procrastinating, a research blog that conducts their own scientific national polling. The 2,000 random final year undergraduate students surveyed stated that their stress levels were high because of the coping difficulties resulting with expectations and competition at college for results.

Stephen Bennett, a researcher at Stop Procrastinating who lead the survey, said they undertook the research with final year students because their exams are the ones that really matter.

 “We wanted to test the impact on stress of knowing that how you perform in these exams could potentially affect the rest of your life,” Bennett said.

In the survey, 35 percent of students blamed the stress and anxiety on the difficult jobs market, while 45 percent blamed the overwhelming significance of their exams in the role they can play in getting jobs and going to graduate school.

Bennett said that despite these exams being highly significant, students still procrastinated and wasted time.

The survey found 75 percent of students admit they had procrastinated too much ahead of their exams, wasting between three and four hours a day. Of those students, 45 percent said they wasted time browsing the Internet or being on social media, and video sites.

Additionally, 30 percent said they chatted to friends either in their room or a local bar or college facilities. Nine percent admitted to having sex instead of studying.

“Maybe that is a normal coping strategy when faced with too much work, although it can only increase stress as the work never goes away,” Bennett said. He said they found students are suffering far more distraction from modern life, such as social media, and they can’t help themselves.

Loneliness was suffered by 37 percent of students with more than half of them saying that their fear for the future caused them to become workaholics who were too concerned about their exam to “waste time” on socializing.

According the survey, more than 50% of students procrastinated because they were overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do. Seventy-one percent said they lacked motivation and concentration coming up to finals, with 34 percent of those stating that it was so worrying that they had to seek professional help such as seeing a college counseling service or contemplating taking antidepressants.

“While some students are seeking professional help through counseling, many are using the peer support system of their friends who are going through the same stresses,” said Rob Jones, director at Stop Procrastinating, in a recent press release.

“It is good to see that while stress levels are high, students are also thinking clearly about the solutions,” said Jones.

The survey also asked students what they do to avoid stress near exam time and prevent procrastinating. These coping strategies included taking up exercise, talking with friends or counselors about worries, taking up meditation, and even blocking the internet while studying.

Bennett advises students to do work in small bite sized chunks, because it is less stressful to do some than none at all.

“Exam stress is normal and helps you to concentrate and perform well. Use it to motivate you,” said Bennett, “The very best of us are often stressed and anxious about exams and that’s why they do so well.”